I ground myself by looking at my hands. I’ve always done it. I have my mother’s hands. Long fingers, veins visible and raised. I wear my family on my hands in the form of rings. Dad, Mom, husband, grandparents, . Now. Most of the people I’m representing on my digits are no longer on this earth, but I still say I’m grounding myself by looking at them.
Grounded. Held to the earth by gravitational pull, its soil an adhesive for our souls and troubled minds. Stable. Solid. Rational. We’ve likened the earth to an immovable source of trustworthiness. A constant in our chaos, a force of sanity that washes over our trembling, Xanax-stuffed skinsuits to cleanse us with tranquility. We herald the earth as benevolent, a font of stillness and reason narrated by Sigourney Weaver. (Said as Sigourney) Earth.
The thing we’re on right now. The thing that means “planet that’s mostly water” and also means “just dirt, no water, no planet.” The thing that’s spinning around a flaming ball of fiery death like a motorcycle cage rider is where we look for calming our nerves. The rock that’s cooking us like an ishyaki stone is where we turn for cooler heads. The big ball of fault lines and rupturing geysers of molten lava is what we’re associating with deep breaths.
We might as well bolt ourselves to a log roll and tell our deepest fears to a drooling, rabid sewer clown and call it sound. Earth is not stable or still. It was created by collapse. Fostered by fire and famine. It is corrected by salting and extinction. Its parasites - us - breed exponentially and rip out its roots to make way for brick as it spins into the sun. No wonder we’re screwed.
And we are screwed, make no mistake. On this day, Juneteenth, we celebrate the true end of slavery. Today, Juneteenth, the combatant who was supposed to be here blinding you with her brilliance was driving herself to the doctor. Someone in a passing car yelled a slur at her with a hard R. We’re deciding which residents of the earth are worth saving and which ones we throw, screaming and crying for their parents, into cages. Our future is decided by people with less than 20 years left in their powdery, withered little lives. We are immeasurably screwed. Be certain.
Could be worse. Have you seen the sky? That shit is monstrous.
Seriously. The sky is an endless, beautiful nightmare of infinite terror. With fluffy clouds that sometimes look like bunnies. We are fucked nine thousand ways to Sunday down here, but we know our limitations, which...apparently are compassion and empathy. But we have them! Otherwise, we’d all just be soaring into the great wide open, glue melting and wings aflame. Because that’s how the sky says “hello.”
With limitations come aspirations. We have something to reach toward. Graduating. Doing one pull up. Traveling. Not blowing holes in the ozone like we’re shooting our own shield in Space Invaders. Not being a shitbag. Goals. Up there? It’s all aspiration. There’s nothing to soar into. Nowhere to wish to be. Dreams? Dead. Wants? Dead. Needs? Enflamed. Goals? Your skin is frozen and the ebullism has caused you to swell to twice your size. Because that’s what happens when the sky says, “Hello, have you met my Dad, SPACE?”
No one is Mother Sky. No one comforts loss by saying “they’re one with the clouds now” cause that’s fucked up. That person is CRAZY. Hey hey hey. Pop quiz. What’s April 22? Sky day? No. It is not.
While flying through the air on a plane, you could once upon a time buy useless earth things from SkyMall. But then you got to your destination - somewhere else on EARTH, not IN THE AIR - and remember that a bear coffee table is fucking stupid. Good thing you came back down to Earth and to your senses. Whew.
We put our hands into the earth to make food for this earth. Sure, it’s laden with lead and genetically mutated mouse poop, but wake me up when the sky makes corn and we’ll all have air elotes. See, the earth was formed from its crispety crunchety center on out. Like a Ferrero Rocher of life. All sorts of cool collisions and explosions happened where ice sheets made water form and continents moved around to make sure they were super comfy like your spot in the couch. Sky? It’s just. Ya know. There. It’s light and now it’s dark and sometimes clouds I guess yawn snooze oh look stars. The aforementioned parasites of the planet - again, that’s us - had to invent religion in order to make looking at the sky productive. We had to play pretend and say there are angels and harps and a set of pearly gates up there to make it sound fun. Like when you tell your friends your house is haunted so maybe they’ll come over even though you don’t have a pool. We literally made up Sky Ghosts to enhance the air. We’re such assholes.
When I think like this and invariably work myself into a state of rage and frustration, or as I call it, “waking up” I am struck by the comfort my hands provide. The stability gained from feeling the earth’s pull, rooting myself to the spot where I stand, is almost incomprehensible in its consolation. For the loved ones whose rings I wear who are gone, I take comfort knowing they’re in the earth. Or their ashes were spread in the water ON this earth like my dad. Or they’re still in jar still in my kitchen, sorry Mom. But listen. Shooting her cremains into space was way too expensive and that shit sounds insane. The earth will hold us and gently spin us to sleep. Let’s dream of soaring aspirations. Of bettering ourselves while remaining planted. And elotes, cause I’m seriously hungry now.